First coming on the hiphop scene in the early 90’s, Teren Delvon Jones—best known as Del the Funky Homosapien—is an enduring West Coast underground legend, a master of collaboration and reinvention.
“If you drink liquor, you shouldn’t have no problems with no substances—definitely not weed.”
The global influence of his Hieroglyphics crew’ knapsack street-cipher Oakland funk should not be understated. The eponymous debut of Deltron 3030, his supergroup with producer Dan the Automator, was a turn-of-the-21st Century indie smash that further cemented his status. Meanwhile, his scene-stealing appearances on the first Gorillaz LP piped his distinctive voice into millions of homes via the unforgettable video for their hit debut single “Clint Eastwood.”
Through all this, Del has remained one of the culture’s premier eccentrics and underdogs. In advance of his performance at this weekend’s International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver BC, Del chats with Leafly about the hypocrisy of anti-cannabis alcohol drinkers, the cannabis industry’s battle with corniness, and his appreciation of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD.
“The first time I heard of [CBD],” he tells me via phone, “was a news report about a little girl, she was having real bad seizures. They ended up giving her CBD, and it reduced her seizures dramatically. But the doctor ended up going to jail. Because back then weed wasn’t legalized, even though it didn’t get her high or nothing, that still didn’t matter. I wanna say that was like ten years ago. It was a big-ass story…it was on like 20/20 or something crazy like that, it was a big deal.”
For years, desperate parents across the nation have been courting controversy (and jail time) by using CBD to treat the seizures their children were experiencing on the daily. But just in April, the FDA approved a seizure drug called Epidiolex, whose active ingredient is CBD.
“I don’t use it a lot, because it’s still kind of hard to find. But when I find it, I use it.”
“Hopefully it starts unlocking more opportunities for people, because people definitely need it,” Del says upon learning this. Universal legalization of, and utilization of all of cannabis’ benefits is inevitable in his eyes.
“Definitely it’d be a benefit to a lot of people,” he says. “It seems like all this stuff is going the way of being approved by the government. In a way, though, I feel like it’s kind of corny. Like, Marlboro or somebody is gonna start selling marijuana cigarettes. It might be decades from now, but I feel like that’s what’s gonna happen, and then they gonna be stuffing it with hella other shit to keep it burning longer and shit. It’s not gonna be what you could have got from yo patna, you know what I’m sayin? And then you won’t be able to get it from yo patna. You gotta only get it through certain channels. And if you ain’t goin thru those channels, you not gonna make as much money, because you could just get it anywhere. There’s pros and cons to everything.”
Anxiety is another illness believed to be treatable with CBD. Already the most common mental illness in the US, recently an American Psychiatric Association poll found that there are 40% more Americans more anxious than we were this time last year. Feeling anxious is absolutely a logical reaction to this moment in history, and CBD’s anxiety-easing properties are understood by a growing number of people in the States, Del among them.
“Maybe I don’t wanna get high. Getting paranoid and shit. I’m not against it or nothin’, but it’s not for me.”
“Yeah,” he says, “I use it to calm me down. I might not feel like going outside one day, or going to the grocery store. I’m not having seizures or nothing—I have anxiety attacks and shit, so that’s why I like using it. That’s why I vape tobacco in the first place. But I’ll mix a little bit of the CBD with my vape juice, just a little bit, if I’m anxious about whatever. I don’t use it a lot, because it’s still kind of hard to find. But when I find it, I use it. Definitely maybe before a show if I have it. I might even hit it on stage, don’t nobody know what it is.”
Like myself and many others, Del appreciates the non-psychoactive element of CBD. “Maybe I don’t wanna get high,” he says. “Getting paranoid and shit. I’m not against it or nothin’, but it’s not for me.”
He’s conscious of the stigma that many still have about anything having to do with the cannabis plant, but doesn’t understand it. “Why people would even still have that stigma today makes no sense,” Del says. “I understand that some people are just conservative, but like…if you drink liquor, you shouldn’t have no problems with no substances—definitely not weed. People can still function off a joint. You can’t function if you drinking liquor.”
Liquor consumption ain’t known for it’s medicinal benefits, either.